Behind the Book: Hercules’s Ninth Labor

Today, The Trials of Hercules is officially ten days old and is still pulling in some excellent reviews on Goodreads. Before we jump into this week’s Behind the Book post, I just want to give a huge thanks to all the readers that have taken their time to leave some lengthy and confidence-boosting reviews for the book. Oh, and I’m thrilled that so many of you are looking forward to more books in the series!

But enough of this sappy gratitude, it’s time for another round of exploring the mythology behind my fiction.

Hercules’s Ninth Labor or How to get bling when there isn’t a Macy’s

If your dad is the leader of Mycenae and he has a hunky guy who is required by order of the gods to satisfy your father’s every demand, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get any present you ask for. In the case of Admete, daughter of Eurystheus, she wants what all the fashionable Ancient Greek girls are wearing: A golden belt.

Of course, Eurystheus can’t just send Hercules down to Macy’s to pick up a nice little Louis Vuitton number since both those things won’t be around for a couple millennia yet. Still, Hercules knows just where to get a golden belt…from Amazon.

No, not that Amazon (again, not invented yet). The belt in question is the golden belt of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons, and was given to her by Ares, the god of war. The Amazons were a girls-only collection of warriors who derived their name from their habit of hacking off one of their breasts.

(Side note: Amazon = one breast missing in Greek; kind of makes you wonder why anyone would give that name to a shopping website).

This drastic surgery wasn’t some ancient equivalent of Angelina Jolie-style cancer prevention, but was instead said to improve their fighting ability. See, the breast got in the way to throwing spears, so, rather than learn a different weapon, they chopped their boob off.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/Heracles_gets_the_Belt_of_Hippolyte%2C_Queen_of_the_Amazons.jpg/466px-Heracles_gets_the_Belt_of_Hippolyte%2C_Queen_of_the_Amazons.jpg

Heracles Gets the Belt of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons.by J. M. Félix Magdalena. Courtesy of Wikicommons

As with many of these labors, Hercules takes his time getting to the Amazons. During his lengthy sailing voyage to get to their island, he stops in a few ports of call, gets in a few battles and gets a parcel of land named after himself. Finally, Hercules makes it to Themiscyra where the Amazon ladies like to hang out.

Now, Hercules, being half god and all that, is pretty easy on the eyes and even the the queen of the hard-hearted Amazons likes the looks of our hero. Hippolyte, rather than throw her spear at him, goes aboard Hercules’s ship and invites him to tell her what he’s been up to. He must weave a good tale, because she’s willing to hand over the belt, no questions asked.

The Acquisition of Bling - vital to all Ancient Greek girls.As always, the jealous Hera has her panties in a knot and flies into a rage over Hercules’ having such an easy time with this labor. To make the labor a bit more interesting, she riles up the Amazons saying Hercules is planning to kidnap the queen. This does the trick and they set about to attack the ship.

In something straight out of a Shakespeare play, Hercules assumes Hippolyte has tricked him into a false sense of security and had planned the attack all along. So, he kills her. You’d think he could have at least asked, “Hey, what’s the deal, lady?” Nope, just whips out his sword and kills her.

After a battle with the Amazons, Hercules sails home and Admete gets her bling.

Behind the Book

In The Trials of Hercules, this labor comes at a turning point for many of the characters in the book. Herc does meet with the Amazonian queen, but it’s much more intimate and she asks him to rule Amazon with her just at a point when Herc has been wondering if all the effort of protecting his home is worth the effort when it seems everyone hates him there. The only person who suddenly doesn’t hate him is Hera…until she finds about his time under the sheets with the Amazonian queen. Don’t worry, in The Trials of Hercules, Herc defends his queen rather than gutting her.

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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCILS.
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